Istanbul meet should cover lifting Iran sanctions: Lavrov

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Upcoming talks between six world powers and Iran should cover the lifting of international sanctions imposed on Tehran for its suspect nuclear programme, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

"The nuclear programme must be at the heart of the discussions and the problems that have not yet been resolved concerning it," Lavrov said at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart.

"But there's not only one topic for this meeting, the lifting of sanctions on Iran must also be on the agenda," he said.

Earlier Lavrov indicated that Moscow was opposed to additional unilateral sanctions against Iran, as mooted on Wednesday by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"We explained to our partners in the US and the EU what we thought about unilateral sanctions and we hope that they have heard us," he said. "It is counterproductive to continuing our common effort to resolve the Iran nuclear issue."

The talks between Iran and the six powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- are scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Istanbul.

Tehran has been talking tough in the run-up in the face of Western allegations that it is preparing to make an atom bomb, a charge the Islamic republic denies.

Russia and China backed a fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran last June as Tehran presses on with its enrichment of uranium, which it says is needed for power generation not weapons.

© 2011 AFP

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